The bluest town in New Hampshire chooses a candidate

In Lyme, voters are mostly ignoring the Republican circus and focused on one question: Bernie or Hillary?

A voter in Lyme casts their Democratic ballot on primary day.

LYME, N.H. – While the rest of New Hampshire argues over Rubio versus Trump versus Cruz versus Kasich, this Connecticut River hamlet thinks mostly in blue.

Hillary or Bernie? That’s the question most of Lyme’s 1,200 or so voters will mull as they stand in the ballot box.

Whoever the Democratic nominee is, it’s a sure bet that they’ll win Lyme come November. Judging by the 2012 election results, Lyme is the bluest town in New Hampshire. President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney with a whopping 76 percent of the vote here four years ago.

Faith Catlin, 67, a therapist and social worker in town, proudly cast her ballot for Bernie Sanders. If he were president, she said, she wouldn’t be so embarrassed to travel abroad.

“He’s sane,’’ she explained. “He’s actually sane.’’

Faith Catlin (left) and her friend, Cindy Swart, both Bernie Sanders supporters leave the Lyme School, where voters cast their ballots Tuesday.

Some of the Republicans here even vote Democrat. Chris West, an unemployed lawyer and undeclared voter, said he pulled a Democratic ticket and voted for Hillary Clinton “just to get Bernie out of it,’’ he said.

What’s the matter with Bernie?

“You don’t have enough time,’’ the 30-year-old New Hampshire native said.

West’s plan was to either vote for Clinton or vote against Donald Trump.


Helen and Leon Oliver leave the voting booth.

Even the ballot boxes seem to showcase the disparity of the political party preferences in Lyme. The Democratic ballot box sits just a little bit taller than its squatter Republican counterpart.

Patty Jenks, the town clerk who oversees the voting process here, said there’s been a strong preference for Democrats in her 30 years in the office. And it seems to be getting stronger.

“Lyme is a very take-care-of-everybody kind of town,’’ she said. “It all boils down to one [issue]: how to best use the resources we have to take care of each other.’’

In fact, just outside the gymnasium where voters cast their ballots, Community Care of Lyme had a booth set up, taking contact information for volunteers who might want to pitch in for one of the local organizations.

George Sykes, a New Hampshire state representative and the chair of the Upper Valley Democrats, said he’s seen the gradual blue-ing of the region since he first moved here from Nantucket 25 years ago.

“I was the lone liberal voice in a sea of conservatism,’’ he said. “That has changed quite a lot.’’

There are still Republicans in town, though. Take Jay Smith, a member of the select board, who moved to Lyme in 2006 for love – and to escape Maine’s taxes.

Jay Smith, a member of Lyme’s select board, watched his constituents cast ballots Tuesday.


Smith, who voted for Mario Rubio, doesn’t feel marginalized. His fellow citizens are more interested in caring for each other together than what’s on the national agenda, he said.

“It’s one of the things that makes Lyme such a nice place to live,’’ the 68-year-old Navy veteran said.

Not everybody touted Lyme’s purported nonpartisanship, however. Without any prompting, one tall man wearing a knit cap and a white mustache started in on why he’s voting for Trump. He said he often gets in “discussions’’ with his neighbors about what’s wrong with their more liberal point of view.

Asked for his name, he refused.

“Are you kidding me?’’ he said. “I’ll find a dead cat in my mailbox!’’

A view of downtown Lyme.

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